Influence of intellectual capital intermediaries on technical workforce capacity
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America’s promotion of science and its appreciation of the economic benefit derived from an educated workforce have fueled innovation that has made America a global economic power. This dependence on a skilled workforce requires that America constantly upgrade its technology and rejuvenate education processes with updated content. The charge of enhancing the nation’s knowledge-base rests mostly on state-controlled educational systems. For Texas the development of workforce skills is divided among many educational organizations, most of which operate under one of two different state agencies. Although these organizations work towards the common goal of an educated and well trained workforce, they have diverse stakeholders and serve different populations. The largeness and hierarchical structure of public education organizations coupled with their diverse constituents create functional constraints found in similarly structured private-sector organizations. Such large, vertically integrated organizations develop informational latency that fosters distortion in scaling of successfully piloted reform. An option for overcoming the latency across education domains and the workforce domain is use of an organizational structure proven successful in multi-organizational projects and joint ventures, the matrix organization. Since the framework of this structure creates a horizontal cross-functional configuration, independent management and domain neutrality are critical for its success. The current work investigated the effectiveness of an independent intermediary in guiding reforms in an education-workforce, multi-domain system. The intermediary was structured in a project-like matrix organization and coordinated activities between the public education domain, higher education domain, and the workforce domain. The intermediary was guided by a private-sector led board of directors who were elected by regional public and higher education stakeholders. The intermediary was independent from the three domains yet operated within their respective functional framework. This provided the intermediary autonomy but allowed it to be conversant with the region’s educational programs and workforce needs to effectively design, scale, and implement curriculum alignment programs. Limiting the intermediary to a regional scope achieved social and economic commensurability between the stakeholders. This moderate span also made goals tangible to the stakeholders, program progress assessable, and spawned a culture of cooperation and trust. The results of the intermediary’s work were measured through its affect on “workforce capacity”, a function of the cumulative intellectual capital created by the education system and its alignment with workforce needs. The hypothesis was that a properly structured educational intermediary would provide a unifying organizational framework through which workforce capacity could be increased. This was tested with the cumulative results of three sub-hypotheses regarding two subpopulations, students enrolled in an intermediary supported program (TP cohort) and those that were not enrolled in the program (NTP cohort). The results show statistically significant improvements in high school completion rates, 93.5% versus 82.9%, and in transition to 2-year post-secondary institutions, 23.6% versus 16.8%, for the TP cohort over the NTP cohort, respectively. The results also show that transition rates to 4-year post secondary institutions for the TP cohort, 39.2%, were not statistically different from the NTP cohort, 38.2%. The cumulative influence of the intermediary was a net increase in technical workforce capacity as defined in the current work.